Student success and retention efforts show gains at EMU

by Geoff Larcom, Published September 21, 2010

YPSILANTI --  Efforts to increase enrollment at Eastern Michigan University have been bolstered by a dramatic increase in the retention of first-year students. A total of 77 percent of freshmen returned to a second year at Eastern Michigan University, compared to 72 percent for the 2008 entering freshmen class.  This is the highest retention rate recorded since Eastern began tracking the data in 1992. 

According to Provost and Executive Vice President Jack Kay, institutional support for retention and student success came from all levels of the University.  This included the Board of Regents Faculty Affairs Committee, faculty efforts, Student Success Council, University Advising and Career Development Center, and the Holman Success Center.

"A great team of faculty, deans, department heads, advisors, and other staff worked together to promote a culture of student success, and the results are wonderful," said Kay.  "Students coming to Eastern Michigan University find a high quality university and the support they need to excel."

Of the 77-percent 2009 FTIACs (first time in any college; n=1452) who returned the second year, the following successes are also recognized compared to the 2008 cohort's (n=1238) second year:

  • Increase of 17.29 percent (n=214) in Good Standing.
    79.77 percent (n=1238) in 2008 compared to 86.12 percent (n=1452) in 2009.
  • Decrease of 25.80 percent (n=81) on Probation.
    20.23 percent (n=314) in 2008 compared to 13.82 percent (N=233) in 2009.
  • Increase of 39.80 percent (n=119) more students with a GPA between 3.0-3.5 (n=418) in 2009 compared to 2008 (n=299).
  • Increase in Class Standing with 11.77 percent (n=113) more students reaching their sophomore year status.

The following activities also are responsible for this success:

Holman Success Center

  • Mandatory participation for at-risk students in the Promote Academic Survival and Success (PASS) program to create an environment of learning. This included bi-weekly meetings with Holman Success Center's academic success coaches (Graduate Assistants), skill building workshops and mandatory academic advising, resulting in a 9.86 percent increase in first-year retention for the 2009 PASS cohort (n=162) compared to the 2008 PASS cohort (n=217). Only 10.87 percent (n=15) of the 2008 cohort had a 3.0 or above compared to 26.05 percent (n=31) in the 2009 cohort. Of greater significance with the PASS population, only 13.44 percent (n=16) of the 2009 cohort returned to a second year on probation compared to 37.71 percent (n=52) of the 2008 cohort.
  • Last year, the Summer Incentive Program (SIP) students in the 2009 cohort transitioned into the Promote Academic Survival and Success (PASS) program for the fall and winter semesters. Mandatory academic advising, and study support continued throughout the first full year. Of significance, as a result, SIP 2009 (n=48) experienced a 12.83 percent increase in first-year retention - 81.25 percent compared to 68.42 percent (n=57) in 2008.

Coordinated Student Advising Team (CSAT) Collaboration

  • Starting winter 2010, focused on more than 500 FTIAC students who ended the fall 2009 term on academic probation and implemented "mandatory" bi-weekly meetings as part of probation status with their Coordinated Student Advising Team Success Coaches. These every-other week meetings included schedule planning, study strategies, academic advising (repeat, drop and withdrawal recommendations and more) and personal advising.
  • CSAT Advisers utilized the Academic Success Plan with all probation students based onthe Holman Success Center Success Coach procedures.
  • Followed up with students identified through the CAS pathfinders initiative as not attending class.
  • Sent emails/called all students identified through the Early Alert program to advise them of the last date to withdraw from classes and to counsel them on what would be the best success strategy based on their particular situation.
  • Sent out congratulatory messages to those students who succeeded in being cleared from academic probation as well as 'keep up the good work' messages to those who made progress.

Academic Advising

  • Implemented dual advising model, which aligned advisors with specific colleges and a cohort of incoming freshmen.Through this initiative the following activities were implemented:

§  Sent freshmen letters of welcome and introduction to their general education advisors.

§  Sent freshmen a special advising folder including major-specific information, critical graduation requirements and a course-schedule book prior to Winter 2010 registration. (University experienced a large increase in FTIAC students registering earlier after this initiative was implemented.)

§  Modified staff schedules and added advising before and after Fast Tracks.

  • This allowed the staff to advise more students - both new and currently enrolled to assist with getting all students registered earlier in the registration process.

Lynette Findley, Assistant Vice President Retention and Student Success, said, "We can learn from the interventions put in place last year for the Promote Academic Survival and Success (PASS) and the Summer Incentive Program (SIP) students. They recorded the most positive difference in the success of our first-year retention rates based on these mandatory provisions."




Geoff Larcom


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